Ever since the Hall of Fame had its first class of inductees in 1959, NBA churned out over 400 players, coaches and referees, immortalizing them in the prolonged legend of the game. Even with respect to listing the great players in terms of their legacy, one of the most talked-about concepts is a hypothetical Mount Rushmore, putting on a pedestal the four most influential players in the history of the NBA. A landmark in the culture of American Sport and a key sport in the viewership in the entire world. Let us look at the Top 10 NBA Players of All Time.
List of Best NBA Players:
1) Michael Jordan
A name that revitalized Basketball in the world, Michael is perhaps the most recognizable face of Basketball excellence. He has also documented in the Netflix series The Last Dance. It is apparent how hard he worked behind the scenes, often putting his teammates to limits they never thought they had, for better or for worse.
Whether you consider him maniacal or not, MJ made the All-Defensive First Team 9 times, and held NBA scoring leader a whopping 10 times. Crowned with the Larry O’ Brien Trophy 6 times and NBA MVP 5 times. He also had his final say, as he was crowned finals MVP all six times he appeared. It is crazy to even imagine the accolades MJ accumulated over time. He dominated the league like no other since Wilt Chamberlain.
2) Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Another name that is engraved permanently in NBA Mount Rushmore, it’s Kareem Abdul Jabbar. His iconic skyhook and towering defense once sent the league spiraling.
Regarded as one of the best centers, the lanky 7’ 2” Lakers and Bucks legend made a record six NBA MVPs. He was as recently as 2021 elected to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Also, he won the NBA title six times, once for Milwaukee Bucks and the rest for the Lakers.
He, as an attacking threat, was a lethal clutch player due to his unpredictability. But his height allowed him to be a much more dominant presence on the other side of the court. Frustrating his opponents with his shot blocking prowess, he made the NBA All-Defensive team an eye- watering eleven times. His figures are so impressive that, it is said that if the best player of all time was determined on stats alone, Kareem would be a clear winner.
3) Magic Johnson
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, another Lakers icon, spent his 13-year career in the Los Angeles-based outfit, securing the NBA title 5 times, and earning his name in the Basketball cult forever.
The 6-foot 9 er point guard changed the aesthetic of the game as we know it. With a dazzling heart-warming smile and the trademark behind the back passes, he is said to have popularized the term “triple-double”, posting double figures in three statistical categories.
Inspiring a love for the game among viewers like no one before, Magic truly earned his name. He also made 4 times NBA assists leaders, with his dumbfounded spinning feeds and no-look passes on the go, and overhand bullets; he must have been a pure treat to the eyes.
4) Kobe Bryant
Fueled to this list by his competitiveness, the Lakers shooting Kobe Bryant guard won 5 NBA Championships, dominating the 2000s. During his extensive career stint of 17 years, something only matched by Karl Malone, he also made the NBA all-star an impressive 18 times and such qualities landed him in the list of Best NBA Players.
He was cited as on of the “premier closers’ of the game. Also was known to take shots in the dying moments of the game. He was considered a lethal attacking threat, with an average of 26.4 points/game sustained over the course of 18 seasons. The much-publicized coinage “Mamba mentality” perfectly captures this relentless quest for excellence.
5) Lebron James
It is perhaps a little too difficult to turn a blind eye to the nostalgia bias that pushes us to hesitate about putting James in the same page as these icons.
But a player that not only lived up to the hype but definitely exceeded all expectations, needs to be accredited with due plaudits.
From making his first dribble in the professional limelight to leading the Cleveland Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 NBA finals against the mammoth Golden State Warriors to secure a championship for the Lakers, as a Finals MVP, king James’s career highlights is one cinematic reel after another.
Far from over, James’ career in the NBA has gifted him with 4 championships, 4 NBA MVP and 5 times NBA All-Defensive First Team appearances among many other accolades.
6) Larry Bird
With an unrivaled swagger and a keen sense of the game, Larry Bird’s basketball profile is astounding in individuality as it is in versatility. A rabid trash talker on the court, Bird’s avid reading of the game and a knack for ridiculous passes have led to him being described as one of the greatest basketball players and shooters of all time.
His achievements include 3 consecutive regular-season MVP, 3 NBA championships and 2 finals MVPs. As a result, Bird is among the most celebrated in the hall of fame candidate lists.
Also Read: 5 Major Basketball Tournaments In India
7) Wilt Chamberlain
A section of the basketball loyals maintain that no player changed the game as Wilt Chamberlain did. He racked up some of the most impressive statistics of North American Professional Sports.
The 7’1” dominating monster of a player is still revered as being among the most destructive offensive player in history. He, at will, seemed to get the better of his opponents, beating double teams and triple teams at ease.
The most revered statistic of his, among many, is his unthinkable sum of 50.4 average points/game in the 1961-62 season. He won the championship twice, once with the Philadelphia 76ers and the other with the Lakers, making the Finals MVP the latter.
8) Bill Russell
The 11 championship holder centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty. His 13 year stay at the Boston team was surreal. Domination has never seen before, or perhaps ever, Bill the 6’ 10” giant’s shot-blocking acumen as well as his man-to-man marking made enthusiasts put him among the biggest names in this list, even though his stats are not remarkable as some of the others.
The center accumulated an average of 22.5 of rebounds per game. His individual accolades including a sensational 12 NBA All-star in his 13-year career is said to be the result of his acute understanding and sturdy philosophy of the game.
9) Hakeem Olajuwon
The American-Nigerian Center’s 18-year career yielded two NBA Championship with Houston Rockets. Standing at an intimidating 7-foot tall, Hakeem combined his physical dominance with a fast pace.
He was made the MVP once and twice the Defensive Player of the Year. Most importantly Blocks the Leader of the league 3 times between 1989 and 1993.
10) Tim Duncan
The humble and hardworking power forward won 5 NBA championships with SAn Antonio Spurs. Also made 3 NBA Finals MVP, and also 2 NBA MVP in 2002 and 2003.
After being the number 1 draft pick , he finished his first season as the Rookie of the Year. Through his efforts, the Spurs made it to 18 playoffs. Also won the NBA All-Star 15 times along the way.
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